In our last blog, ‘Should we all be thinking effort to close rather than time to close?’, we demonstrated how companies have been able to have the best of all worlds, providing their business with improved quality, reduced costs, and reduced time across their close process.
So, what can you do to reach this nirvana? While the analysts, such as Aberdeen, Hackett, Ventana and Deloitte, may vary in the number of steps, there are three consistent threads that they all agree on. These are:
- Standardise your processes across your business: Take the opportunity to not only replicate what was being done before but establish best practice. Often this stage will include the development of a Shared Service Centre (SSC) or Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) company. If so, it is vital that the role of these are effectively defined and communicated.
- Automate wherever possible: This is across the entire Record to Report processes, including reconciliations, journal entries and close tasks. It is vitally important to ensure you have integration of systems across the whole process to reduce complexities, risks and costs.
- Optimise: Once general tasks have been automated, a proactive risk based approach can be implemented to further improve efficiencies. At Trintech we have helped customers to develop a risk rating as a means to drive reconciliation/review schedules, for example: A Medium rating might be given to a low risk account that has open items greater than a certain amount.
One of the main challenges is the order that these are undertaken. Some experts advise using technology to help companies standardise their processes, while others recommend standardising their processes and then automating. In reality, companies will often do a mixture of the two, standardising where possible and then implementing technology followed by further standardisation once everything can be seen.
The key is to talk through with partners and vendors and utilise their experience before and during implementation. They are the ones who have done it before and can lead you in terms of the questions you should be asking internally, and providing best practices from previous companies they have worked with.
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